Act Now to Keep Your Federal Funding

With the federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2007 currently being debated in Congress, now is the time for campus security professionals to mobilize and remind our elected officials that school and university safety and security must continue to be a high priority.

COPS grants, in particular, have contributed significantly toward making our nation’s K-12 schools safer. In 2005, for example, $5.4 million of this agency’s funds were used by 13 states to hire 44 new school resource officers (SROs). Additionally, COPS’ Secure Our Schools grants totaling $14.7 million were awarded to 187 local law enforcement agencies to enhance school safety in 43 states. These funds were used to purchase metal detectors, locks, lighting and other equipment to help deter crime.

With this kind of support, I doubt it’s any coincidence that we’re now seeing our investment in safety and security at schools paying dividends.

In Philadelphia, for example, serious infractions involving that city’s students dropped more than 10 percent for the first four months of the school year (from September to December 2005). District officials attributed the decrease to the installation of hundreds of security cameras throughout the district.

In Ann Arbor, Mich., the school district, which recently invested in 8,000 security tags and tightened its access policies, was able to recover two expensive projectors.

Last year in Rogers, Ark., 32 cameras were installed throughout Elmwood Junior High School. Since then, the CCTV system has videotaped children engaging in fights and other inappropriate behavior. Officials say the school has experienced a decrease in crime because of the cameras.

On the university level, Florida Atlantic University surveillance video helped police track down two teenage suspects in the beatings of three homeless men (one of whom died).

I don’t know if COPS grants or federal money were directly involved in the purchase of the equipment in these instances. Still, a general funding commitment from the federal government can only contribute to the overall success of school and university security and safety initiatives.

Some might say that achievements like the ones I just described indicate we can afford to spend less on protecting our schools. Being lulled into complacency, however, is dangerous.

A recent national study conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) indicates that many public school districts still have significant deficiencies in their emergency and disaster plans. While 86.3 percent of those surveyed reported having a mass casualty response plan, only 57.2 percent have a written plan for prevention of such an event. Almost a third (30 percent) of school districts have never conducted an emergency drill.

Disturbing statistics like these remind us that much work still needs to be done.

Fortunately, we live in a democracy where we have a say as to how our tax dollars are spent. Campus security professionals must get involved and urge Congress and the Bush administration to get their priorities straight.

Thanks to the Internet, writing or E-mailing your congressional representative is easy. To start, you can visit or, or you can check out, which will help you search for the lawmakers who represent your area.

Contact your senators and representatives in Congress today to let them know just how important safety and security are to our nation’s schools and universities.

Robin Hattersley Gray is Executive Editor of Campus Safety Magazine. She can be reached at

For the complete version of this article, please refer to the March/April 2006 issue of Campus Safety Magazine.

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About the Author

robin hattersley headshot

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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